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Familiar face joins Shoreview’s Planning Commission
Yarusso aims to continue her civic work at the local level
Former DFL state Rep. Barb Yarusso is still involved in government decision-making, but now it’s at the municipal level.
At the Jan. 17 Shoreview City Council meeting, Yarusso was appointed to the city’s planning commission, taking the place of Deb Ferrington, who retired at the end of January after more than a decade of service as a commissioner.
The seven-member team meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month and serves as an advisory group for the council, assisting with long-range planning and development in the community.
Prior to this appointment, Yarusso served for four years in the state House, representing District 42A, which encompasses Arden Hills, Mounds View and Shoreview.
In the last election, Yarusso was pitted against Republican Randy Jessup of Shoreview in a re-match of 2014’s close race. While Yarusso beat Jessup in 2014 by about 1 percent of the vote, 2016 saw Jessup defeat Yarusso by a similarly thin margin.
Despite losing her House seat, Yarusso said she doesn’t want to give up on her goals of helping to find solutions for local transportation infrastructure, public transit, long-term housing and environmental issues.
“This allows me to continue to be involved in some issues that I’ve worked on over the last four years for our community,” Yarusso said in an interview last week.
While she will be drawing on her experiences in the Legislature, she said one thing that perhaps has best prepared her for her new position on the planning commission is having lived in Shoreview since 1991.
“I’ve had a long view of the development of Shoreview,” she said.
Aside from future transit and road projects for the community, Yarusso said, among other things, she cares about environmental impacts.
“Though I’m not an environmental scientist, I do have a science background which allows me to understand some of these issues,” she said, noting that she’s a chemical engineer by training, a background that also helps her “understand logistics and the need for the different systems in the city to work together.”
Yarusso, 60, has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering and is a part-time tutor who works with a range of individuals, from middle-schoolers to college students to working adults.
She and her husband Dave have three adult children and one granddaughter.
“One of the things I told the city council when they were interviewing candidates for the planning commission was that my husband and I moved to Shoreview in the first place because we really liked it here — the parks, the biking and walking paths,” Yarusso said. “And since then we’ve seen a lot of new developments, but they’ve only made the city better and better,” she said, commending both planning commission and city council.
The council members participated in a ballot vote to fill the commission vacancy at their Jan. 17 meeting. They passed their paper votes to City Manager Terry Schwerm to be counted — with Yarusso coming out on top of five “really outstanding candidates,” said Mayor Sandy Martin.
Martin then made sure to recognize Yarusso’s predecessor, Ferrington, who, according to Martin, “had all the best qualities for a planning commissioner” and offered “wonderful service” to the city.
Ferrington was not able to respond to the Bulletin’s request for comment in time for publication.
Yarusso will begin her three-year term at the planning commission’s next meeting, Feb. 28.
Jesse Poole can be reached at email@example.com or at 651-748-7815.